On the issues: Rep. Michelle Steel and Jay Chen on abortion, immigration and healthcare
This is part of an ongoing series on the role of science in politics. If you’d like to read more, click here.
Jay Chen, a California Democrat, won in part by highlighting the “science” of climate change, but it was his response to health care that proved his strength on Tuesday night during the race for California’s 25th Congressional District.
“I am the only candidate that will fight for a health care system that works for families, not for insurance companies,” Chen declared.
The “health care system and the insurance companies” were what Chen was referencing. Over the past 40 years, the federal government has increasingly limited the coverage offered by private companies, forcing consumers to buy their insurance on the open market.
The result over the last two decades has been a dramatic, and very predictable, increase in Americans spending more and more of their incomes on health care services. The federal government is now funding a third of all government healthcare expenditures in the United States.
“It is not right for one insurance company to profit off of covering everyone,” Chen said on Tuesday night.
The problem is that it is not just one insurance company. It is the whole industry we now call “insurance.”
Chen said the federal government should not be allowing insurance companies to use the “free market” to profit from covering those who have few options. Insurers can and do play by the rules in most cases (with the result that most of us are priced out of purchasing any kind of insurance, though there is one type of Obamacare plan that is available to “exchanges” or sites where people can buy insurance).
Chen’s remarks were a rebuttal, in a very direct way, to the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, which was supported by Republican leaders at the time, as well as a large portion of the population.
During the Obama years, private insurance companies did not have to compete on price with each other. It also meant very